"But, seriously, could Pixels really mean “game over” for his career?"— The Atlantic
Pixels is a 2015 American-Chinese science fiction action comedy film co-produced and directed by Chris Columbus and written by Tim Herlihy and Timothy Dowling, from a story by Herlihy. A feature-length adaptation of French director Patrick Jean's 2010 short film of the same name, the film stars Adam Sandler (who also co-produced the film), Kevin James, Josh Gad, Peter Dinklage, Michelle Monaghan, Brian Cox, Ashley Benson, Sean Bean and Jane Krakowski.
It is the final live-action theatrical movie to have Adam Sandler involved in production.
After aliens misinterpret classic feeds of arcade video games as a declaration of war, they attack Earth in the form of Galaga, AGW, AGW, AGW and AGW, so the president calls his best friend to save the world.
WARNING: Do not put anything among the lines of "it's an Adam Sandler movie" here
- It's pretty much a generic videogame-crossover movie that has too many fanservice, especially when the movie has a lot of appearances from videogame characters. While fanservice may be a good thing, it sometimes makes the movie feel a bit rushed.
- The biggest problem with the movie that the film itself is very underwhelming in the first place, mainly because the idea of aliens attacking Earth with videogames is such a good premise, but the execution was horrible.
- Another big problem is that its premise takes elements from a BTSW episode titled Anthology of Interest II.
- The movie can get very flat at times.
- It has too many ideas for a game-crossover movie.
- Poor attempts at humor, like Qbert wetting himself after seeing Donkey Kong.
- Blatant product placements, much like many other Happy Madison films, such as Yoo-Hoo! drinks in the beginning, and when Sam feeds Qbert UTZ Cheese Balls.
- False Advertising: On the poster, Pac-Man is seen devouring San Francisco. However, there aren't any scenes that take place in San Francisco.
- Unlikable characters such as Eddie Plant, Ludlow Lamonsoff and Sam Brenner. In fact, Brenner's teen version is more likable than him as an adult.
- Adam Sandler and Kevin James' performances are weak, as they show little-to-no expression.
- Poorly-written script and dialogue that feels like it was written by a writer who's addicted to video games or a 13-year-old.
- The movie has quite a few errors. For example, classic arcade games like Donkey Kong and Pac-Man didn't have cheat codes, meaning that Eddie couldn't have cheated.
- Quotes that make no sense like "You smell so nice... like the book of Genesis!"
- The ending. To put it simply, Ludlow fell in love with Lady Lisa, but in the ending, Lady Lisa gets returned to the mothership, so Q*bert transforms into Lady Lisa and they get married. This suggests that women are nothing more than prizes to be won, as Eddie Plant's prize for saving the world is to have three-way sex with Martha Stewart and Serena Williams, and Sam's prize is to make out with Violet.
- The transformation made so little sense, that even Sam Brenner (Sandler's character) questions it.
- Very weak and generic alien attack plot. You could take out Adam Sandler and his friends and virtually nothing would be different.
- Not only is Admiral Porter (Brian Cox's character) a weak secondary villain, but he was also unnecessary, as the movie is already two-thirds in.
- Plothole: Why couldn't Brenner just explain the patterns to the S.E.A.L soldiers?
- Our main characters have virtually no chemistry with one another.
- It brings up an interesting question; what if aliens misinterpreted a signal we sent them as a declaration of war?
- The scene where Toru Iwatani tries to reunite with Pac-Man is a touching moment
- The soundtrack is good, with a nice rendition of "We Will Rock You", as well as Game On (the song that plays during the credits).
- To add to that, the credits are decently animated in 8-bit
- The visuals and CGI for the arcade characters are very neat, even in 2015 standards, which makes for pretty good action.
- Besides Qbert wetting himself, the Donkey Kong scene is amazing.
- Even if the movie completely wasted their talents, Peter Dinklage and Michelle Monaghan give good performances.
- The actual Toru Iwatani (the real creator of Pac-Man; this time not portrayed by Denis Akiyama) makes a cameo in the opening flashback as an arcade repairman.
- The movie can have its moments, like Ludlow yelling at US soldiers or Toru Iwatani getting his hand bitten off by Pac-Man.
- Even as weak as he was, Admiral Porter's revelation was shocking.
Pixels received negative reviews from critics who criticized the humor, Adam Sandler's performance, and characters. On Rotten Tomatoes, the movie holds a 17%, with a critic consensus that reads "Much like the worst arcade games from the era that inspired it, Pixels has little replay value and is hardly worth a quarter.", while audiences gave it a 46%. It currently holds a 5.5 on IMDb, a 27 on Metacritic, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews" and 1.9 on Letterboxd.
Scores from audiences were more mixed, with a 5.1 Metacritic score and 47% Rotten Tomatoes score.
Due to the negative feedback, and being released when Minions and GMW were dominating the box office, the film was a box office bomb, and ultimately killed Happy Madison Productions' theatrical days, and moved to Netflix.